We cosmetologists need Andrew Cuomo’s help, not his smirks

Judging by your giggling about my line of work, Gov. Andrew ­Cuomo, I know you think I’m just a dumb hairdresser. Through that smirk, you repeatedly point out how “nonessential” hair salons and barbershops are. You giggled during a news conference about how a haircut done from 6 feet away would end up looking.

Yet as an industry, we are trained and educated on infection control and standard precautions. A lot of us paid for that education through state and federal student loans — with interest.

While we do work in salons, spas and barbershops, we also work in schools, photo studios, ­retail outlets, theaters, film and television — including shows like your kid brother’s, where he daily sings your praises.

We are making plans and ­accommodations for additional precautions. The Professional Beauty Association has outlined extensive new sanitation practices, including limiting the number of people who can come into the salon at once.

We are going much further than many other private-economy employees, including grocery-story cashiers and bank tellers. And let’s not even talk about the NYPD officers I recently saw congregating as a group — six of them, to be exact — in front of a COVID-19 testing site in The Bronx, none of them wearing protective gear or even remotely following precautions.

By the way, I’d also like to know, since your curled manes seem to look neat, tidy and a bit darker than usual — who is doing your hair?

Are you, Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago (who was called out on her haircut after she told the public “getting your roots done is not essential”) and other public officials exempt from the mandates you hand down, with little regard for their impact on our finances?

Stop the hypocrisy and work with us on a concrete plan to get us back to work while ensuring the safety of our salons, barbershops, clients and communities — not to mention our own safety.

Why? Because we provide more than just a haircut. We also volunteer in our communities.

Before the program was suspended due to COVID-19, I volunteered at New York Presbyterian Hospital for Lipstick Angels, providing mini spa services to patients receiving drastic treatments, including chemotherapy and blood transfusions. Hand massages, facials and aromatherapy are a few of the complimentary services we provide for patients and their caregivers during their time at the infusion center.

You may also want to look at the “Cut It Out” program, which builds awareness of domestic abuse through materials displayed in salons, and the “Give the Power Back” initiative, which allies salons with local domestic-violence agencies, not to mention all the training salon and spa students and professionals receive to recognize warning signs and safely refer clients to resources.

There’s also the “Hair Club For Kids,” helping young people who’ve lost their hair, and “Beauty Becomes You,” a volunteer effort that allows beauty professionals to provide free haircuts and grooming to senior citizens.

The list goes on. Not once did a client, caregiver or patient ever call us “nonessential.” They have always thanked us for our services and for helping them through a difficult or challenging time.

I’ve worked with all these volunteer programs at one time or another. Unfortunately, there are so many people that can’t be helped through programs — because you have shut us down totally and continue to do so, without laying down a realistic path to reopening.

In addition to all the joy, even rebirth, my industry provides, we also generate a lot of revenue for the state, including the fees we pay to New York for our Cosmetology, Esthetician, Nail Technician and Teachers licensing that ensures we have met all the educational requirements and understand and comply with sanitation and hygiene procedures and practices.

We also pay our taxes. And we vote. I’d like a no-giggles-allowed response to how you are going to help us be of service to our communities.

Candice Rios is a licensed cosmetologist, hairstylist and freelance makeup artist living in The Bronx.

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